For the first time in a long time, I’m a bit hopeful about our country’s political future.
This is the last election where it might be possible to cobble together a majority out of just angry, conservative, white voters. With the non-white fraction of the population growing, and with people in those groups becoming more politically active, by four years from now I don’t think there’s any chance of a candidate winning without a strong showing in at least some minority groups.
But it looks like the tea party doesn’t get this. They really think that getting even more angry, even more conservative, and even more white will seal the deal. And a failure to understand that means that the next election will also go to the Democrats.
In fact, we could even see the Republican party fracture over this, with the sane Republicans splitting off from the crazies.
A sane Republican party—a party that thinks the government ought to keep out of both your bedroom and your wallet—could draw a lot of Democrats into the fold. It also ought to draw a lot of tea partiers, since that’s basically what they’re calling for. But so many of them are so angry and bitter, they just can’t get past their anger and bitterness to compromise. The result has been the “can’t take yes for an answer” that we see in Congress—leading to the debt ceiling showdown, the fiscal cliff, and all the other dysfunctions that we’re suffering under now.
If the Republicans fail to win this year—and especially if they think that the lesson is that they need to be more rigid and ideologically pure, rather than more flexible and inclusive—we may have Democratic administrations as far as they eye can see.
In a world where the Democrats have already moved so far to the right that they’re solidly in the middle of where a sane Republican party would end up, I find that pretty hopeful.